Immune Checkpoint Inhibition in Hodgkin Lymphoma

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Intricate systems of checkpoints such as the programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1)/programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) axis regulate adaptive immune responses to protect against tissue damage. However, diverse cancers can exploit these pathways to evade or suppress antitumor immunity, leading to tumor progression. Correspondingly, immune checkpoint inhibitors that block PD-1/PD-L1 signaling have shown marked therapeutic efficacy in certain cancers, such as Hodgkin lymphoma. Reed-Sternberg cells, the hallmark cells of Hodgkin lymphoma, commonly overexpress PD-1 ligands, and recent clinical trials have demonstrated impressive response rates with the PD-1 inhibitors nivolumab and pembrolizumab in relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma, leading to their FDA approval in this setting. Current efforts are underway to improve clinical responses by incorporating PD-1 inhibitors into earlier treatment regimens and identifying therapeutic agents that synergize with PD-1 inhibitors. This review summarizes our understanding of the PD-1/PD-L1 axis in Hodgkin lymphoma, recent clinical studies of anti-PD-1 monotherapy and promising combination immunotherapy in the pipeline.

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